Owning a horse can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but along with the joys come responsibilities—and it doesn’t stop at just feeding and exercising them. To keep your companion healthy and happy, hoof health is a major priority that should not be taken lightly.
Horse paddock grids (also known as stable ground grids, hoof grids, or mud control mats) are an ideal solution for horse owners who want to keep their equines safe from the mud in wet weather conditions.
These stable grids are not only designed to reduce mud and wetness in a horse’s stall or trough area, but they also protect your horse’s hooves and legs from possible injury.
In this article, we will discuss the cost, installation process and maintenance required for hoof grids, as well as, 6 reasons they are essential for an efficient and healthy barn or stable environment.
What Are Horse Paddock Grids?
Horse paddock grids are typically made from materials like plastic, rubber or PVC and are designed to be slip-resistant, easy to clean and long-lasting.
They are most often used for horse stalls but they are also great for pastures, lunging and turnout areas, food and water troughs, horse trailer parking areas, and holding pens and arenas for other livestock such as cattle.
These ground grids can come in a variety of sizes, and shapes. They are typically quick and easy to install (depending on the area of installation) and they require minimal maintenance.
Installing hoof grids can have a number of advantages—but is it really worth the cost?
The initial price may seem quite expensive compared to the cost of bulking up on traditional materials like straw or wood shavings. However, the initial expense is often offset by the cost savings over the horse’s lifespan.
You will use much less straw, gravel, or other footing material when ground grids are installed underneath. It can also save you a bundle in potential veterinary bills for aiding hoof health issues.
To determine how many paddock grids you will need, measure out the area for proper coverage and contact a horse paddock grid provider to get a quote based on your measurements. Some vendors may even offer discounted bulk pricing options.
Horse paddock grids are relatively easy to install and require minimal maintenance. Once installed, they will last for years with proper care.
You can use them for surface areas with seeded or turfed soil, or in an area you plan to fill with sand, grass, or gravel. The most essential thing to ensure is that the installation area has good drainage.
When you are ready to install, you will clear the area—removing any rocks, sticks, topsoil, or other debris that may interfere with the installation process. After you have a smooth and level base, the installation process will vary depending on your surface coverage preferences.
Equine hoof grids require regular maintenance and light cleaning in order to keep them performing at their best. Additionally, you should inspect your horse paddock grids periodically throughout the year for wear and tear to determine if any replacement ground grids are needed.
If you’re looking for alternatives to equine mud management grids, bulk bedding materials such as wood shavings or straw can be used. However, having the mud control grids underneath these materials cut down on the amount of these bedding materials needed and provides a drainage solution underneath.
Outdoor footing material like sand and pea gravel are also options, especially for pen and paddock entrance areas. However, the cost and labor involved in constantly replacing and repositioning these materials adds up over time. Furthermore, they don’t provide a long term drainage system during inclement weather conditions.
Rubber stall mats have good slip-resistance and shock absorption and are relatively easy to maintain, but they don’t provide the same strength and stability as a flat surface made from plastic that is specially formulated to support and cushion a horse’s hooves.
6 Reasons Horse Paddock Grids Are A Wise Investment
If you’ve ever dealt with a muddy barn, stable or trough area, you know it’s not a fun experience, while these stable ground grids are particularly useful for reducing the amount of mud that is tracked in, they provide a wealth of other benefits that cannot be overlooked.
Here are 6 critical reasons horse paddock grids pay off in the long run:
1. Keep Stables, Barns and Paddocks Clean
Horse paddock grids provide a good barrier between the equines and the barn or stable floor. This prevents tracking of dirt, mud, and debris which can quickly make a mess.
This can be a lifesaver, particularly during Spring when snow melts and rainfall is at its heaviest.
2. Reduce Labor Costs
Keeping horse stables and barns clean and filled with bedding and footing materials requires a lot of time and labor. Having horse paddock grids in place requires less maintenance and eliminates the need for constantly replacing muddy, wet straw.
3. Prevent Soil Erosion
Equine mud mats provide a comfortable and stable surface for horses to stand on, which averts their hooves from digging into the ground and causing soil erosion.
Horse paddock grids also help reduce run-off by creating small depressions in the ground that can absorb excess water during wet weather. This helps keep water from running off and taking topsoil with it, which can otherwise lead to major problems down the line.
4. Reduce the Likelihood of Injuries
Mud is a horse’s enemy. Deep mud can cause hoove softening which can make them prone to sole bruising or abscesses. Muddy terrain, especially in very deep mud, can cause a horse’s leg to twist in an unnatural way causing injury to leg tendons or ligaments.
Avoiding over exposure to wet, muddy conditions is the best way to have a happy and healthy horse.
Though you can’t keep them away from mud entirely, taking proper steps to ensure they are walking on a dry surface area as much as possible is key to reducing moisture in your horse’s skin and hooves.
Horse paddock grids provide a critical layer of protection between horse hooves and the ground. The grid surface is designed with small gaps which allow water to drain away while still providing a safe, sure footing for your horse. This creates a slip-resistant surface not only for your horse to walk on, but also the caretakers who are working in the barn.
5. Avoid the Dreaded “Mud Fever”Add Your Heading Text Here
Mud can cause scratches on horses, which can then turn into mud fever. Mud fever, also known as pastern dermatitis, and greasy heel, is an infection that affects the lower legs of horses. It usually occurs when bacteria and fungi get into horse hair follicles and skin folds. This can result from excessive wetness, abrasions caused by horse equipment, or contact with mud.
Symptoms of mud fever include redness and swelling of the horse’s lower legs, a scaly appearance to the skin, and occasionally small scabs or pus-filled bumps on affected areas. In extreme cases, if left untreated, it can lead to lameness due to severe discomfort in the horse’s feet.
To prevent mud fever, and other fungal infections and diseases owners need to groom regularly to remove debris which could harbor bacteria and fungi and keep horse’s hooves trimmed to minimize contact with dirt which could cause infection.
The best way to avoid health challenges associated with wet hooves is to ensure living conditions are kept as clean and dry as possible.
6. Evade Other Hoof Infections and Diseases
Aside from mud fever, wet conditions can cause other health issues in horses.
Thrush is an infection that causes pain in a horse’s frog and the tissue surrounding it.
White line disease, also known as “seedy toe”, is a very common health concern for horse owners. This is basically a separation of the wall in the horse’s hoof leaving the cavity vulnerable to filling with dirt or other debris turning into an infection.
Hoof abscesses are another common issue. This is where hooves become soft and debris can penetrate the sole causing bacteria to be trapped. This bacteria generates pus which can lead to great discomfort for the horse.
Having horse paddock grids in your enclosures will provide proper traction during wet weather conditions and shield your horse’s legs and hooves from these common health issues.
Get American Made Horse Paddock Grids from Pioneer Plastics
Horse ground grids are an effective way to protect horses’ hooves and legs while they are in paddock areas. These mats provide slip-resistance and help to keep stalls clean and dry.
At Pioneer Plastics, our horse paddock grids are 100% made in the U.S.A from a high density polyethylene (HDPE) material that is soft enough to cushion a horse’s hooves but strong enough to be driven on. We offer competitive pricing and discounts for different purchase thresholds.
Ready to start reducing the amount of mud tracked into your barn or stable? Fill out this form on our website or give us a call at 1-800-951-1551 to learn more about our ground grids and other plastic products.